The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln

The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln

by Kate Clifford Larson

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In The Assassin's Accomplice, historian Kate Clifford Larson tells the gripping story of Mary Surratt, a little-known participant in the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman ever to be executed by the federal government of the United States. Surratt, a Confederate sympathizer, ran the boarding house in Washington where the conspirators-including her rebel son, John Surratt-met to plan the assassination. When a military tribunal convicted her for her crimes and sentenced her to death, five of the nine commissioners petitioned President Andrew Johnson to show mercy on Surratt because of her sex and age. Unmoved, Johnson refused-Surratt, he said, “kept the nest that hatched the egg.” Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, The Assassin's Accomplice tells the intricate story of the Lincoln conspiracy through the eyes of its only female participant. Based on long-lost interviews, confessions, and court testimony, the text explores how Mary's actions defied nineteenth-century norms of femininity, piety, and motherhood, leaving her vulnerable to deadly punishment historically reserved for men. A riveting narrative account of sex, espionage, and murder cloaked in the enchantments of Southern womanhood, The Assassin's Accomplice offers a fresh perspective on America's most famous murder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465024476
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 02/22/2011
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 191,533
File size: 979 KB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Kate Clifford Larson teaches history at Simmons College. Her first book, Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, was described as “brilliant” (Smithsonian Magazine), “astonishingly good, a better debut than any author has the right to wish for” (Dallas Morning News), and “an extraordinary achievement” (Baltimore Sun). Larson lives in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 "Devoted Body and Soul to the Cause" 1

Chapter 2 Creating a Life, Building the Nest 11

Chapter 3 Rebels, Spies, and Couriers 27

Chapter 4 Keeper of the Nest 43

Chapter 5 The Assassin's Accomplice 69

Chapter 6 A Shrewd Witness 97

Chapter 7 The "Materfamilias" of the Criminals 117

Chapter 8 The Case for the Defense 149

Chapter 9 The Verdict: Swift and Deadly 169

Chapter 10 Scenes at the Scaffold 195

Epilogue American Tragedy or American Justice? 223

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 235

Index 255

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Assassin's Accomplice 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
descendtgrayspy1863 More than 1 year ago
Written in a clear yet flowing style, Kate Larson offers us an unusual perspective of the Lincoln conspiracy. I know of no book on this subject that does not bring up Mary Surratt frequently, but I have never seen her in focuse. Rather than simply providing aid to her son, John and whatever Confederate agents who happened to be in his company; we see the real Mary Surratt. She came from a slave holding Maryland family of unwavering Confederate support. She had one son fighting for the Confederacy; another spying for them and was widowed to a husband arrested for transferring mail and military intelligence between Maryland and Virginia. The array of writings which portray her as something of a victim should check the sources of this work. She clearly knew all or most of the plot and aided it in numerous ways. After reading this book, her execution seems a logical outcome.
katknit More than 1 year ago
Author Kate Clifford Larson has had the courage to examine a historical question that still has the power to raise hackles: Was Mary Surratt guilty of conspiracy to murder the president, and if so, should she have been executed. In doing so, she has provided a valuable service in clarifying the evidence and coming down on the side of the courts. Whether or not the Lincoln assassination conspirators should have been tried by a military court is no longer the issue. Larson convincingly shows that Mrs. Surratt was an active participant in Lincoln's murder. Her age and gender, which caused considerable controversy at the time, should no longer color opinion of the outcome of her trial. Was she guilty? It appears, beyond reasonable doubt, that she was. Should she have been executed? That depends on one's opinion on the subject of capital punishment. Larson has provided a lively, objective case study based upon available documentation.
bchcat More than 1 year ago
I'm not a huge history buff, but this was one of the most informative books I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im not your average teen, in my wishlist of books i do have plenty of cute teen love stories, but this book is so inviting and it may be one of my top 5 on my wishlist. I only read the sample (which is only 17 pages) i found so much information. I must say Lincon had to be my favorite not gunna lie he is my current wall paper lol. But this book tells you what you dont really know abaout "the first woman exicuted by the U.S. governement". It tells her story, and gives her a name...Mary Suratt. By only reading the introduction the book leaves you wondering was she innocent or guilty? There is evidence saying yes she did have a major role in killing Abraham Lincon but was she just going on her motherly instinct and protecting her son john suratt? Any loving mother can understand how hard it was for her to do the right, or wrong thing. I strongly suggezt this book to those history freaks (like me). Also a wonderfull movie to see is The Conspiritor which also tells the inyeresting and amazing story of mrs. Suratt.
L-B More than 1 year ago
It's always better to find out what really happened and not what Hollywood wants you to know.
queencersei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the nearly century in a half since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln countless books, movies and conspiracy theories have emerged. Perhaps no part of the assignation has been as little understood as the involvement of one of the convicted and executed conspirators, Mary Surratt.The Assassin¿s Accomplice attempts to unravel fact from fiction and reality from myth, in determining just what the extent of Mary Surratt¿s guilt really was. Compellingly, the author finds that Mary was actually deeply enmeshed in the plot, a willing accomplice and as deserving to be executed for her role as any of her fellow conspirators. An overview of Mary¿s life and timeline of events months before the murder of President Lincoln are carefully laid out. History buffs in general of lovers of the Civil War, The Assassin¿s Accomplice offers interesting insight into the sad, grand finale of the Civil War.
FvHSLibraryLady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating. This well-researched non-fiction book tells the "back story" of Mary Surratt and her role in the assassination of Lincoln. I actually listened to this book on iTunes through an download.
horomnizon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll admit that I don't read tons of non-fiction and this book is probably one of the reasons. The information was interesting, but the book was not really written in an interesting way. It was like reading a doctoral thesis. I guess that's why I like historical fiction - it gives me the pieces of (often well-researched) history, but with an interesting setting and story. This book was hard to get through and was confusing with all the many people involved. A list of 'characters' would have been helpful to keep track of who was involved in what way.Very informative and if you're really interested in the Civil War and Lincoln's assassination, I'm sure the book is a valuable resource. It just wasn't particularly fun to read for somebody just curious about the history and not an avid reader on the subject.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fairly straightforward account of Mary Surratt's role in the Lincoln assassination. Larson's goal is to prove that attempts to clear Surratt of any guilt were based primarily on her gender--that many people just could not believe a woman capable of plotting the act and that their shock at a woman's execution led to this opinion.
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reader7545 More than 1 year ago
see review above
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